Populism in Europe and the USA – Webinar Recording

This Webinar took place on October 22, 2020. The main focus of the discussion was how do we understand populist leadership in the US? Is Trump a “populist”? What are the similarities and differences between Trump’s rhetoric and ideology and populists in Europe today (including the UK and Ireland)?

Watch the full webinar here.

Speakers included:

Mick Fealty, Editor of Slugger O’Toole
Dr. Daniele Albertazzi, University of Birmingham
Professor Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham
Professor Daphne Halikiopoulou, University of Reading
Professor Tim Bale, Queen Mary, University of London

The discussion was chaired by Professor Liam Kennedy, Director of UCD Clinton Institute.

PiAP-Clinton Institute Webinar: Comparing Populisms

This post appeared originally on EA Worldview


What can we learn from examining populism across as well as within countries?

The Populism in Action Project’s Dr. Daniele Albertazzi (University of Birmingham) and Dr. Stijn van Kessel (Queen Mary, University of London), joined by Dr. Julien Mercille (University College Dublin), took on the question in a webinar hosted by UCD’s Clinton Institute on October 15.

A video of this event was recorded and can be accessed here.

Dr. van Kessel laid the foundation for the session by setting out PiAP’s methodology and research questions. He began with the assumption, possibly borne out by the experience and practice of “mainstream” parties over the last 50 years, of a move away from the cultivation of extensive and intensive engagement with a mass membership. PiAP’s critique of this model is the demonstration of a mixture of older and newer forms of engagement cultivated and sustained by populist radical right parties in Europe.

Dr. Albertazzi then set out some of PiAP’s key findings so far in Belgium (Flanders), Finland, Italy, and Switzerland, considering the cases of Vlaams Belang, the Finns Party, the League and the Swiss People’s Party respectively.

In each, the representatives interviewed were enthusiastic about building local parties as a key part of strategy and internal culture. While there are noticeable local differences — for instance, the prominence of social media and instant messaging channels like WhatsApp in Italy and Belgium, and the relatively high degree of local autonomy enjoyed by branches of the Swiss People’s Party — each party under study is very good at building participatory organizations with which members want to be involved.

Albertazzi explained the attractive proposition of joining a space where a member can connect with like-minded people to share and discuss political ideas. Aware of this, populist radical right parties have developed effective means to mobilize members, who connect with them via social media or through other channels, into face-to-face activity through formal campaigning activity or social events.

Dr. Mercille complemented PiAP’s work, with the discussion of contemporary Irish politics. He explained why, despite the similarities between Ireland and other Western European countries, a populist radical right party has yet to emerge in the Republic.

There are conditions such as increasing economic insecurity, highly visible wealth inequality, concerns amongst culturally conservative individuals about social change, and a lack of trust in the political system. But Mercille suggested that reasons for the non-emergence of a radical right populist party range from the lack of a charismatic leader to the historic right-leaning duopoly of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, dominant since Irish independence in 1921. If there is a breakdown of this historic alignment, then Ireland might join other European countries with a populist radical right party like those studied by PiAP.

Tampere University: “How Populist Logic Functions in Contemporary Media”

Niko Hatakka (PiAP Finland focused Research Fellow) lectured on “How Populist Logic Functions in the Contemporary Media Environment” at a symposium organized by the Institute for Advanced Social Research at Tampere University, Finland on December 4-5, 2019.

The symposium brought together cross-disciplinary social scientists in discussion of populism as class, discourse, and affective formation. Workshops considered to what extent these dimensions are effective in distinguishing political varieties, forms, and limits of populism as an analytic category.